The Taming of the Shrew opened first at Propeller’s home base, the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, in September before touring and visiting the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival ahead of its West End transfer. This week marked the first airing of the company’s new staging of Twelfth Night. Following the Old Vic, the company will take the productions on an international tour, including a return to the Watermill.
The current residency at the Old Vic follows West End seasons for two earlier, highly acclaimed Propeller productions: Rose Rage, a two-part adaptation of the Henry VI trilogy, at the Haymarket in 2002; and A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Comedy in 2003.
This time round, London critics were once again impressed with the versatility of Hall’s close-knit ensemble, with particular plaudits reserved for Simon Scardifield, Tam Williams, Jack Tarlton, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart and Tony Bell, a Whatsonstage.com nominee for supporting performance last year in the non-Propeller revival of A Man for All Seasons (click here to vote now!). However, seeing the productions back-to-back on the two-play press day inevitably prompted comparisons to be drawn. By and large, critics felt that the company’s slapstick take on the Bard’s most controversial battle-of-the-sexes play, The Taming of the Shrew, was outshone by a funnier, tighter offering of Twelfth Night.
- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock